Cabinet members engage in discussion on mental-health issues, but offer no solution to the growing Problem

Mental-health challenges are being faced by a growing number of
residents, with some opting to end their own lives. But the Cabinet
of Antigua and Barbuda does not appear to have any solutions to
counter this serious issue.

During the September 6 Cabinet meeting, the minister of social
transformation reportedly was invited to present on the national
policy for handling persons with mental-health challenges.
However, the Cabinet Notes of Thursday, September 7, make no
mention of proposals or solutions to address the issue – saying only
that the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre is not designed to treat
mental patients.

The Notes add that the Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital is where they
are to be placed for treatment, since a psychiatrist is assigned to that
facility. However, the Notes add, “many patients who are in a state
of readiness to return to their homes have been abandoned by
family members.”
Meanwhile, Damani Tabor, public relations officer for the United
Progressive Party (UPP), says that the Party had advanced a
comprehensive mental-health policy in its last election manifesto.
Tabor says that training is very important for those persons who
deal with mentally challenged individuals and those who may
encounter situations where they will have to handle them.
It was only last week that Rashawn Shabazz, a young man with
mental-health issues, was confronted by the Police and shot, after he
reportedly menaced persons in the Perry Bay area and stoned an
However, that was not the first such instance. Andrew Noyce, 40,
was shot on Market Street on April 9, 2022, by officers who claimed
he was brandishing two knives. Reportedly a vendor at the Public
Market had made a report against him.

In two other fatal incidents, mentally challenged persons being held
at the St. John’s Police Station attacked a police officer and a cell
mate, respectively, inflicting injuries that led to their victims’ death.